Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott, Cowboys ‘run’ to perfect 2-0 start, so what is Jerry Jones nitpicking

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is playing out of his mind.

And wunderkind offensive coordinator Kellen Moore can seemingly do no wrong.

The Cowboys are 2-0 on the season after cruising to a 31-21 victory against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field that sounded more like an East Coast version of AT&T Stadium with so many blue-and-silver clad fans taking over the proceedings before, during and after the game.

The Cowboys have scored more than 30 points in the first two games, following the 35-17 victory against the New York Giants in the season opener.

Prescott completed 26 of 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns and had a quarterback rating of 123.5 against the Redskins one week after passing for 405 yards and four touchdowns and fashioning a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 against the Giants.

The Cowboys’ offense under Moore, who replaced the fired Scott Linehan after the 2018 season, is hitting on all cylinders and has nine touchdowns in the first two games. Last season, it took until Week 6 for them to total nine touchdowns on the season.

But leave it to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys teammates to find tongue-in-cheek fault in Prescott and Moore on Sunday.

While Jones championed Moore’s promotion and remains his biggest supporter, he took exception to the use of Prescott as a runner when the Cowboys were trying to close out the game on the ground in the final two minutes.

Prescott’s 11-yard run gave the Cowboys a first down with 1:58 left but he took a couple of hits Jones thought were unnecessary with a double-digit lead.

“I know this, I’d like for our end of game strategy would not make our quarterback have to run with the ball and potentially risk the kind of injury he did on that last play when he got hit,” Jones said. “We need to go back and look at how to end the game when you got it pretty much put away without having your quarterback get at risk.”

Of course, Prescott’s runs were a big part of the game and a big part of the Cowboys offense under Moore. Jones readily acknowledges that Moore told him they were going to run him more this season.

Prescott had five carries for 69 yards in the game, including a career-long 42-yard run to help spark an 83-yard scoring drive to end the second quarter. He finished with a 2-yard pass to tight end Jason Witten to make the score 14-7 at halftime.

But leave it to running back Ezekiel Elliott to chide Prescott for getting tackled by cornerback Josh Norman and not finishing the run in the end zone.

Prescott ran through a wide-open hole on a third-and-1 but slowed up to allow receiver Michael Gallup to block Norman.

“I told him if he kept running he would have scored,” said Elliott, who rushed for 111 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.

“I mean, that’s a little caught in between indecisiveness right there,” Prescott said. “I wanted to let Gallup obviously get in front of me and block Norman but then again I feel like I was going to have to slow down too much. I’m not the fastest so I didn’t know what was coming up behind me and at that point, yeah, just was looking for the stiff-arm.”

In response to Elliott’s comment, a smiling Prescott said: “Yeah, I love my teammates. They have all the belief in me. I don’t know if my speed does. I don’t know if I do or not.”

At this point, the number of people who don’t believe in Prescott is dwindling across the league, namely Norman who questioned Prescott before but found himself blaming the media after repeatedly getting burned, especially the 51-yarder to Devin Smith in the second quarter.

But there is no question everyone in the Cowboys room is 100 percent behind a locked-in Prescott, including Elliott, who went from kidding to praise.

“They don’t matter,” Elliott said of Prescott’s critics. “All that matters is what we think in this locker room. We all support each other and we know Dak is one of the best quarterbacks in this league. They can doubt all they want. We’ll keep proving them wrong.”

Prescott has certainly proved a lot through the first weeks of the season. A perfect day against the Giants was followed by Sunday’s brilliant performance that actually began with an interception on the second drive of the game that led to a 7-0 deficit.

Prescott then directed five straight scoring drives, including touchdown passes to Witten and Amari Cooper in addition to the one to Smith, before a final kneel-down to end the game.

He finished the game with a career-high 18 straight completions, including a perfect 14 of 14 in the second half.

“That is surgical right there,” Cooper said.

An astonished defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence channeled his inner Terrell Owens with, “That’s my quarterback,” after being told of the completion streak in the postgame locker room

It is the second-longest streak in team history to Brandon Weeden’s 21 straight passes over the course of five games from Nov. 2, 2014 - Sept. 27, 2015.

“I mean, you’re not really aware of it, but then again you kind of take a second and say, ‘man, when’s the last incompletion maybe?’” Prescott said. “But it’s not something you think about. Especially at this position you’ve got to put the last throw and the last play behind you or mistakes oftentimes come then.

“So it’s just about being in a groove, offense working together. As I said when the game’s happening we’re able to throw the ball, receivers making great catches. You just look up and it’s like that.”

It’s been like that for Prescott through the first two games. He is in a groove like never before in this Moore-led offense.

Prescott now has seven touchdown passes in the first two games of 2019, the most by a Cowboys quarterback since Don Meredith had seven touchdown passes through the first two games of 1966.

Prescott has completed 51 of 62 passes through the first two games, a completion percentage of 82.3%, which is the best number through the first two games of a season in team history, topping Tony Romo’s 75.0% in 2015.

“He is a pretty locked-in guy, there is no question,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He is playing at a very high level. I think he’s got a good command of what we are trying to do. I think he is comfortable. The guys are playing well around him. He and Kellen Moore are absolutely on the same page as of what we want to get to and how we are going to get there.”

Make no mistake, Jones is pleased as well.

This is the offense he hoped to see when he made Moore the offensive coordinator. And he said he’s never seen Prescott play better. He is the team’s franchise quarterback and a new contract remains imminent in Jones’ mind, though no deal is done.

“I’m very comfortable. He’s very comfortable,” Jones said. “Those are things we reemphasize a time frame in anything that requires two people requires a consensus of those two people from a time frame and I’m not trying to be talking riddles here. Certainly, from the standpoint of where we’ve been from talking about his business talking about the Cowboys’ business, we have a lot of water under the bridge.”

Now, he just doesn’t want to see him get hurt.

“He’s operating our offense,” Jones said. “He’s got the skills to do it. Kellen said he’s going to run him more, he’s running him more. He’s keeping it more. All of that comes with certain things you have to consider. I don’t know about him taking off and I say that smiling because it was welcome — we scored and made a big play and put it away. I hate to see that.”

Hate to see that.

Jones loves to see the Cowboys at 2-0 and tied atop the NFC East standings.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram